Ask any couple celebrating a milestone wedding anniversary — 10, 25 or 50 years – the key to their longevity, the response is most often: communication, respect and honesty. Naturally, wisdom that is commonplace in our personal relationships easily translates to our professional lives. Yet too often, our colleagues, business partners, customers and even competitors feel the love, while the reporters and editors who cover our industries don’t. So many industries – real estate, education, banking and finance – fall within editorial “beats” with reporters and entire publications dedicated to covering them every day. Major corridors such as Silicon Valley’s tech industry have regular contact with reporters at all levels: local newspapers and business journals, national tech and business media, and beat reporters at the world’s largest media outlets.
While these relationships are unlikely to last for 50 years, a CEO of a company that a reporter is assigned to cover on a daily basis have been thrown into an arranged marriage of sorts. They have to make it work. And the secrets to longevity isn’t much different than so many happy couples toasting lifetimes together:
- Honesty: Lying and cheating are grounds for breakup of any relationship. It will take a very long time to regain trust.
- Respect: The media have very hard jobs. They’ve chosen a field that is essential to our democracy and yet often pays poorly.
- Teamwork: Not every interview is going to be a glowing review of you or your organization. Sometimes reporters simply need your expertise for a quote. Still make the time to help them out. Otherwise, your phone won’t ring for the stories that do help
- Consideration: if you’re late coming home, a call is expected. Same for reporters. If you schedule an interview or promise information, be on time. If something truly comes up, communicate and do what you can to find a solution.
- Forgiveness: You wont like every story. But accurate, objective news is a reporter’s job. It’s a job they won’t keep if they only write what you want. So be prepared to move on. The silent treatment only hurts you.